I woke up one morning last month and noticed that the inside of my left leg was aching. I immediately brushed it aside thinking I had been crossing my legs too much. However, over the next few days the aching got gradually worse and worse, until it was making it difficult to walk.

I spent two days in bed with flu and then noticed that my wrists, fingers and ankles were also aching and I was very tired. I also noticed that the aches and pains travelled and moved from joint to joint, so that one day my wrists were aching, and the next day my wrists were fine and my ankles were aching.

Then it suddenly dawned on me that my neighbour was telling me of his similar symptoms just a few days earlier, and his diagnosis had been Barhma Forest Virus. He was diagnosed last October 2012 and the worst of his symptoms involved very painful joints all over his body, which kept him from his hobby, bush walking. His finger joints were also so painful that it stopped him cooking his meals, and he was relying on more quick-to-prepare dishes. His body ached continually, without reprieve for the last 7 months.

So I took a trip to the local doctors and asked for a blood test for Barhma Forest Virus and four days later I got a positive. I was very grateful for the conversation I had had with my neighbour, otherwise I would have had no idea what had been wrong with me! It also occurred to me that others living in the Hinterland on the Sunshine Coast may also be experiencing similar symptoms and may not know what was wrong with them, which is why I decided to write this article.

BARMAH FOREST VIRUS (BFV)

Barmah Forest virus is the name given to a virus that is carried by mosquitoes. The mosquito may have contracted the virus from infected marsupials particularly possums, kangaroos and wallabies or from infected humans. The infection is not fatal and all people who develop the disease do recover eventually. Australia is the only country where Barmah Forest virus has been identified.

SYMPTOMS OF BFV

Barmah Forest virus causes inflammation and joint pain and has similar symptoms to Ross River virus infection (epidemic polyarthritis), but usually lasts for a shorter duration. The symptoms may include fever, headache, tiredness, painful joints, joint swelling, muscle tenderness, and skin rashes. Some people, especially children, may become infected without showing any symptoms.  The initial fever and discomfort only lasts a few days but some people may experience joint pain, tiredness and muscle tenderness for up to six months. Most people can return to work within a few days of becoming ill, although joint and muscle pain may cause some longer term restrictions in some occupations.  The virus is only passed to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. It cannot be passed directly between humans.  Most people become unwell within three to 11 days after being bitten by an infectious mosquito.

TREATMENT

There is no specific drug treatment for BFV infection. And generally the medical profession cannot treat viral infections. However, as I am a Medical Herbalist I immediately started treating myself with anti-viral, (Barhma Forest specific), anti-inflammatory and immune-regulating herbal medicines. I took a high dose of my own formulation and knocked the virus out of my system in 3 weeks. Again I am very fortunate to have been able to get a diagnosis quickly and able to treat myself immediately. Others aren’t so fortunate however and may not get a diagnosis for many months, in which time the viral infection has caused much havoc, inflammation and dysregulation of their immune system. Barhma Forest is very similar to Ross River Fever in it’s symptoms and effects, and it can take many months to recover. The health and functioning of the liver is also essential to how a person recovers from both RRF and BFV. As it is the liver that needs to detoxify the virus.

Herbal Medicine as far as I know is the best way to treat RRF and BFV. This is because herbs work directly disabling the virus. Maintaining an alkalising diet is also important, avoiding coffee and alcohol and eating alkalising foods including apples, pears, pawpaw, almonds, tofu, avocado, salads, vegetables, you get the picture. Viruses cannot exist in an alkaline environment, so lifting your pH to 7.5 or above is important. This can be done with diet and (aluminum free) bi-carb soda/baking soda and manuka honey in warm water, taken before breakfast and dinner, (if required). Testing your pH is simple using Diagnostic pH Test Strips and holding a strip in your urine 3 x per day to get an accurate picture of your acid/alkaline balance.
A South American herb called Cat’s Claw is very good at treating Barhma Forest Virus and is included in all my herbal formulations treating BFV and RRF. Avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes is of course the best preventative medicine.

Could you have Ross River or Barhma Forest Virus? Contact Miriam Young on 0413 024 901 if you require Herbal Treatment for viral infection.